A cyclone is bearing down on Mozambique and is expected to make landfall tomorrow. Mozambique is currently trying to deal with heavy flooding and the storm is only expected to make matters worse.
Mike Huggins is the UN World Food Program spokesman for southern Africa. He?s currently in Johannesburg after having just returned from Mozambique. He spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about conditions there.
?More than 120,000 people have already been evacuated to higher ground in the flood zone. And we anticipate if the flood gets worse, either because of more rains in neighboring countries or because now this oncoming cyclone, then the number could quite easily shot up to 285,000 people that would be affected by the floodwaters,? he says.
Huggins says the government of Mozambique compares the current floods to those of 2001, which devastated many areas. But some things have changed. He says, ?A lot has been put in place since then, including a government resettlement scheme to try and entice people out of the flood plain area to higher ground. And they have also been allowed to go back to their ancestral homes in between to do their planting. So people have been given the option to come and go.?
The WFP is helping many in the flooded areas. Huggins says, ?The World Food Program is feeding about 30,000 people so far?and clearly as we move on these people are going to need long term assistance. They have all lost their crops. Many people have lost their homes. And the first thing that people need of course is shelter, food and clean water. So, there?s a long term implication to all of this.?
Huggins has been following the path of the cyclone and says it?s forecast to make landfall around 5pm local time Thursday. ?It?s projected to pass up parallel to the Zambezi River, which is where all the flooding is right now, and then pass into Zambia and Zimbabwe. Which of course does spell potential hazard again for the flooded people in Mozambique because they are downstream from the river systems in both Zimbabwe and Zambia.?
The Mozambique government is making preparations as a cyclone approaches flood-stricken regions. Paulo Zucula is director of the National Institute for Disasters and Calamities. He tells VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua what?s being done to get ready.
?It?s a strong one?it?s going to hit a good part of the coast and part of inland, even the area where we just evacuated people from the floods. We have people on the ground now in several districts. The army, the Red Cross?teachers, nurses on early warning systems advising people about the danger. And advising people on what to do and where to go. And at the same time we did find places where people can take shelter and take cover and store some food and water,? he says.
The Mozambique government will survey the areas hit by the cyclone. ?Actually, during the cyclone we start to first (make) a preliminary assessment. The people we have in the field, they will start drawing information on what they see?in damage and loss of life if is the case. And then right after we definitely have to do a more careful assessment and put together a recovery plan,? Zucula says.